This week post to NovelThree is a kayaking author excursion. Activities like this stimulate ideas and spur creativity. In correlation, I decided to show a sample of my writing that was inspired by such an event. Here is a excerpt from Personal Guardian, Chapter 17: Sneak Attack. Enjoy!
Personal Guardians, Chapter 17
Annoyed, I kicked off my shoes and socks. When Darius dove into the water, I removed my tank-top and dropped it next to his shirt. I marched into the cold pool wearing only my running shorts and black sports bra.
Darius came up with a jolt that caused me to gasp. Spinning on the spot, he started then froze as I resumed my progress into the lake. He mopped the water from his face. His eyes scanned over my appearance.
I moved his direction. “What?”
He shrugged. “Nothing.”
When he continued to stare, I grew uncomfortable, ignoring the desire to cover my exposed waist. “What are you looking at?”
Darius shook his head, glancing across the lake.
“It’s like you’ve never seen a girl in a bathing suit.”
He laughed. “That is not a bathing suit.”
“It’s close enough.”
One eyebrow rose. “And you’re not just any girl, are you?” Lips twitched as he regarded me. He reached out a hand. “Come here.”
I pished, sending a jet of water his way. “I don’t think so.” I shifted my direction and waded further in.
“Be careful,” he cautioned, but I waved him off, feeling brave. When the water grew past my waist, I stood on tiptoes to keep the cold from hitting my chest.
Despite my initial confidence, my conviction slipped, as did I when the lake floor dropped. I cursed, fighting to gain my footing. My lungs seized as the frigid lake baptized me. Before I could find the ground, a strong hand grabbed me and pulled me up, easily lifting me into safety. I gasped for air, filling my lungs.
Cradled in his arms, I sputtered and spat in a truly graceful fashion, wiping water from my face. My ponytail clung to my cheek and neck. My skin dimpled in cold. Darius held me tightly to him as he maneuvered closer toward shore.
“You should have just come to me like I told you to.” He stopped when the water was level with his shoulders. “And you curse like a sailor.”
I smiled. Ian had accused me of the same thing. Remembering him now felt different. Less painful, somehow.
I pulled a sodden leaf from my hair. “Why do you enjoy this?” I asked, tossing it to the side.
He hummed; his voice rumbled within his chest. “Which part?” he asked, with a wicked grin that caused my heart to lurch.
We were so close, our faces mere inches apart. Mesmerized, I studied him. The lines of his hard face softened; the tension between his brows disappeared. Drenched locks of deep chestnut brown trickled droplets onto his rounded shoulders. His unkempt beard now beyond stubble added to his appeal.
Turning in place, he spun me slowly in the water as he had done once before. The lake hypnotically tugged at my legs and lapped at my arms. Darius was such an interesting puzzle, and one I desired to solve more and more every day. I wondered what it would take for him to open to me reading his soul.
Seeing souls had been difficult at first, not knowing what to look for when calm, but the more I practiced, the easier it became. I had even been able to communicate with a few less frightened members, soul-to-soul. I just needed an open heart, and sometimes all I had to do to earn it was give a genuine smile or a kind word. Others, however, needed a little more. That was where Darius came in handy.
He had been with me through every interview with every member of the compound, easing any tension between me and that of the inhabitants. He had been encouraging and overly attentive. He was part of the reason the experience was a complete success. While I was grateful for the change in our friendship, it also made me uncomfortable, but I wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was because it had become harder and harder to find reasons to dislike him.
“I think you can let go now.” I shifted in his arms, but he only tightened his hold.
“I could, but you don’t really want me to, do you.” It was a statement, not a question.
Shocked by his forwardness, I started, then stared into his face.
Heavens above, he was gorgeous…
Breathing became difficult; my insides twisted. My mouth clamped closed and I averted my gaze. I had told myself it would be easy to overlook Darius’s confession from before, especially knowing our feud-rich past, but this new Darius was making it difficult.
After a moment, he chuckled. “I didn’t think so.”
Again, I was caught off-guard by his growing directness. “You’re incredibly full of yours—”
And then he kissed me. Soft, yet firm, his mouth sent a shiver through my body.
I tensed, my own lips unresponsive to his sneak-attack, but he seemed to be fine with my forced indifference. He broke away, the tip of his nose resting against mine. Heat flushed my cheeks, but despite my shock and my outrage at my lack of outrage, I couldn’t tear my focus from his beautifully sculpted mouth.
“Just so there is no question of my intentions toward you.” His breath upon my skin warmed my face and I closed my eyes, savoring the moment.
“What do you mean?” I whispered.
When I finally was brave enough to meet his gaze, his light brown eyes—the color of golden amber—ensnared me, rendering me speechless. Keeping my attention captive, he once again pressed his lips to mine. Then again.
“Twenty years, Ava Matthias.” His lips teased, lightly nipping on my bottom lip. “That’s how long I searched for you. You have no idea—”
But before he could finish his sentence, my mouth crashed against his. All thoughts fled when Darius growled. He deepened the kiss and my arms of their own accord snaked behind his neck. I shifted, wrapping my legs around his torso, and cinched the space between our touch.